Monday, November 21, 2016

Real Sourdough Bread made with Sourdough Starter

I have finally overcome my fear of sourdough starter and making sourdough bread!  This past summer, I ordered a sourdough starter from a seller on Etsy. The starter arrived in dried form, ready to have water and flour added to begin the activation process.  Then, a broken wrist aborted my sourdough plans.  A few weeks ago I found the envelope with the starter packet and decided to see if it was still good.  I've been feeding it according to the excellent directions that I received from the seller plus finding other tips online to keep it healthy and active.  And healthy it is!

Now I was finally ready to bake sourdough bread, but what recipe to use? I viewed countless recipes online and those included with my starter.  Then, I found one that used a spin on the the no-knead format and I knew that would be a great recipe for a beginner to use.

The starter was prepped and mixed with flour and salt, covered and left on the counter overnight.  The next morning, I was amazed to find a beautiful rise had occurred in my dough - without any yeast, just the magic of the live sourdough starter doing its thing.

After tucking the dough under and giving it two letter folds with oiled hands, I plopped it into my small enameled cast iron oval dutch oven and covered it for another two hours rise. 

Using the standard no-knead instructions that you may already know, the dutch oven was heated in a hot oven, the dough placed in the heated pot, parchment and all, and later, out came this gorgeous loaf of bread...

It did get a bit too brown on top but I followed the directions exactly instead of taking a peak into the oven a littler earlier.  Lesson learned. I was so excited to see how would it look inside that crusty exterior and most importantly, how would it taste?

After the first bite into the shattering, crisp crust and soft, sourdough-infused interior I was so amazed and delighted that I wanted to yell, "Look what I have created!", just like Tom Hanks in the movie "Cast Away" when he finally made a fire.

Yesterday, I made two more loaves.  Another regular sourdough loaf and a cranberry walnut sourdough, using a portion of starter that I had been feeding with rye flour. 

The latter didn't rise quite as well as the regular bread flour version but it was so delicious that I will be working on perfecting this recipe - perhaps with a whole wheat flour starter rather than rye. 

Even though it's too late to get a starter going and make this bread for Thanksgiving, if you love to bake bread as I do and want to try nurturing a sourdough starter, this is a great recipe and a fun project for the winter months.

In the meanwhile, I would like to wish all of your who celebrate Thanksgiving this week a very happy and safe holiday!  Coincidentally, this is what wandered through our yard early yesterday morning! This is only the second time we've seen turkeys in our yard and both times it was right before Thanksgiving. Are they trying to tell us something? 

No Knead Sourdough Bread

I bought a sourdough starter called Black Hills Gold Rush Sourdough Starter from WorldSourdoughs on Etsy.  This is not a paid promotion, I just recommend the product based on my experience. 

1 lb bread flour (use a digital scale to weigh the flour)
2-3 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup freshly fed sourdough starter
Luke warm or room temperature water

In the morning, remove your sourdough starter from the refrigerator (where I keep mine).  Remove 1/4 cup of starter and place in a small bowl or jar. Feed it with 1/4 cup of AP flour and 1/4 cup of room temperature water.  Stir and cover loosely with plastic wrap.  Keep on the kitchen counter until late afternoon.  Check to make sure it has bubbles and has increased in volume slightly (active). 

In the afternoon, weigh the flour and place in a large bowl with the salt.  Stir to combine.
Measure out 1/4 cup of starter into a 2 cup measure.  Add enough slightly warm or room temperature water to make 1-1/2 cups total liquid.  Stir together until blended. 

Pour the starter-water mixture over the flour and mix together with your hands or a large spoon, until no trace of dry flour remains.  You may need to add another tablespoon or so of water if your kitchen is dry. 
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and then a kitchen towel and allow to rest and rise overnight on the kitchen counter, about 12 to 18 hours. 

The next morning, prepare the dutch oven by placing a large piece of parchment paper over the non-handle sides and then pushing down along the bottom sides and folding back over the top sides, created creases where needed.  This will be your 'lifter' and also create a non-stick surface in your pot when baking.  I use a small, 3-1/2 quart Le Creuset oval Dutch oven but any small enameled cast iron Dutch oven will work. 

In the morning, you should have a good rise, hopefully doubled in volume.  With lightly oiled hands, fold the edges of the dough into the center, all around.  Then, pick up the dough and pull it into a rough rectangle and fold one end over the other (an envelope fold) and then repeat with the opposite sides.  Tuck any rough edges under and place the dough into the prepared parchment-lined dutch oven.  Cover again and allow to rest for two more hours.

30 minutes before the 2 hours is up, place the dutch oven and its cover in the oven and preheat to 450F.  At this point, I transferred my dough in it's parchment carrier, into a rectangular plastic storage container while the oven and Dutch oven preheats. You could also use a casserole dish or bowl as a temporary home for your dough. 

When the oven has preheated for 30 minutes, very carefully remove the Dutch oven and take off the top Place dough in it's parchment carrier into the hot dutch oven. Your may slash the top of the dough with a sharp knife if you wish but it is not necessary. (I've done it with slashing and without). Put the lid back on (it's HOT), and place the dutch oven back into the oven and bake for 30 minutes, covered. 

After 30 minutes, remove the lid and continue to bake for another 20-30 minutes, or until dark brown on the top.  Watch carefully during the last 10 minutes making sure the crust doesn't burn. 

Remove pot from oven and carefully remove bread by lifting it out with the parchment paper.  Allow to cool completely before slicing. 

Adapted from Duonyte's No Knead Sourdough Bread

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Hello Dolly Bars

This past weekend we hosted a memorial party celebrating the life of my husband's late mother, Carol.  It was a lovely event and we were surrounded by many family members and friends. Those of you who follow me may remember that she passed away the afternoon before I was scheduled for surgery on my broken wrist this past summer.  As a tribute to my mother-in-law, I made and brought her recipe for Hello Dolly bars to the party. She made them every holiday season for as long as she was able. She was 94 when she passed away. 

~Hello Dolly, Goodbye Dearie (my husband's nickname for his mom)~

The celebration was held in the lovely Victorian home, above, which was built in 1892. The beautiful private home and surrounding land was purchased in the early 1900's by Milwaukee County and became the Grant Park Golf Course and Clubhouse.  It was the county's very first public golf course with beautiful views overlooking Lake Michigan. 

The reason we chose this venue was my mother-in-law was a golfer and member of the ladies' golf club at Grant Park for over 20 years.  My husband grew up playing golf there. The clubhouse is available to rent during the off-season for golf which begins in November so we booked November 5th.  This was perfect timing for me as it gave my broken wrist time to heal so I could help plan and enjoy the celebration.  

You may already have a Hello Dolly recipe in your family.  They are oldies but goodies! I've read that the name Hello Dolly cake or bars came from an 11 year old Texas girl who borrowed a recipe from her grandmother in the 1960s and named them for the Broadway musical which was very popular at the time.  The recipe had many other names prior to that.

There are many recipes for these bars but my mother-in-law's recipe was slightly different in that it has butterscotch chips as well as chocolate chips. I've even seen a chocolate graham cracker crust version which is a such a great idea.  With a buttery graham cracker crust, flaked coconut, chopped walnuts and flavorful blend of chocolate and butterscotch morsels they are almost like eating a candy bar - so delicious!

My mother-in-law would serve Hello Dolly bars to her bridge club when it was her turn to host during the holidays using her favorite china, which my husband and I will use on our table this Thanksgiving.

This holiday season, why not try a great old recipe and make some Hello Dolly bars for your dessert platter? Happiness is making new and preserving old family memories.

Hello Dolly Bars

Printable Recipe

So simple and delicious. For variety, try substituting different kinds of nuts, flavored graham crackers or different types of baking chips.

Note: This recipe calls for a 9 x 13 inch metal baking pan (I doubled the recipe and used a 10 x 15 inch baking pan).

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1-1/2 cups crushed graham cracker crumbs
1-1/2 cups unsweetened flaked coconut
1 cup chocolate chips ( I used bittersweet chocolate chips)
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Mix together melted butter and crushed graham crackers. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom of a baking pan.

Sprinkle the coconut evenly over the graham crackers, then add the chocolate and butterscotch chips.

Drizzle the entire can of sweetened condensed milk evenly over the top.

Bake for 30 minutes. Cool completely and cut into squares.

May be frozen.

Adapted from the original recipe printed on the label of Eagle Brand Condensed Milk years ago.